Beaded slippers are a stunning and meticulously executed wardrobe item loved by Peranakan ladies. In the past, Nyonya girls were required to make a pair for themselves and their husbands to be. Tiny European beads and a variety of motifs (even Betty Boop!) were used in a demonstration of patience, attention to detail and endurance. These virtues, along with cooking and spice-pounding skills, would show a matchmaker the signs of a well-bred daughter.
Luckily for not-so-handy modern Nyonya, this custom has gone by the wayside. Nowadays, this beautiful craft can still be experienced under the guidance of less fearsome instructors. Take on the challenge of a sewing your own beaded shoes, or the much easier option of buying a pair! There's several places you can experience Peranakan beadwork in Singapore. Here is a short list offering both group and one-to-one workshops! My advice (having never done it..) would be to perhaps start small?
The Little Shophouse is located in the heart of Arab Street and virtually next to Sultan Mosque! This quaint shop is also along a nice paved area where you can stroll along and get a nice feel of the neighbourhood. Say hello to the friendly Robert Sng and his sister Irene, who run one-on-one beading workshops.
Rumah Bebe is located in the heart of Katong in a picturesque shophouse. Nyonya Bebe Seet's workshops include shoes, bookmarks, beading on velvet (wow!) and even relief beading (amazing!). She also runs private in-house tours where you can learn more about Peranakan culture.
PBS Atelier is run by Hiroko Tanaka and she caters to the many dedicated Japanese ladies into Peranakan beading. I'm pleased to know that a love of Peranakan culture is being shared by Japanese enthusiasts! シンガポールで日本語のビーズワークショップ何て。いいですね！
Rumah Kim Choo is where you can find fashion designer Raymond Choo. He's a lovely fellow and teaches beading at his beautiful shophouse gallery on East Coast Road. He also had a range of Kueh sweets, Kebaya and various other Peranakan related gifts for sale. Kim Choo also offers in-house tours, Kueh sweet sampling and other activities.
Hope this mini guide is helpful! I'd love to see any photos of your work if you take some lessons!
Read more: Beadwork Show at Peranakan Museum Singapore